How to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

The turkey has been carved, the side dishes have been passed around, & the pumpkin dessert has been devoured. Now what? Once Thanksgiving has come & gone & your fridge is full of leftovers, many of us are left asking ourselves how should we use up all of those delicious Thanksgiving leftovers?

While you can't really go wrong with a classic turkey sandwich or reheating all of your leftover goodies for a second (or third or fourth) helping of your Thanksgiving favorites, there are a few recipes you can make to completely transform your Thanksgiving leftovers into a whole new dish.

A photo compilation of Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas, with text "Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas" overlay

Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas

These are our go-to recipes for turning leftover Thanksgiving turkey into something new, so you’ll never have to ask “What should I make the day after Thanksgiving?” ever again! Keep the comfort food vibes going with these turkey leftover ideas:

  • PUT YOUR SKILLET TO WORK. With a satisfying Skillet Pot Pie filled with all sorts of comforting goodness – sure to make your mouth water.
  • BREAK OUT THE SPICES. & add some heat to your leftovers with some MEGA flavorful Chili recipes.
  • AMP UP A CLASSIC LEFTOVER TURKEY SANDWICH. With an ULTIMATE Grilled Cheese Turkey Sandwich – full of autumn flavors!
  • ADD IN SOME GREENS & GRAINS. A hearty & nutrient-dense Autumn Grain Bowl with loads of good-for-you ingredients & a cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette on top.
  • GO TEX-MEX. Turn your turkey extras into easy Weeknight Enchiladas that will fill you right up.
  • OR KEEP THINGS LIGHT & COZY. With tons of Soups sure to warm you up from the inside out!

We can’t wait for you to try these leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipes. ♡ Read on for more details about each of these recipes or click through the link under each for the full recipe details!

Thanksgiving Leftovers Tips, Tricks, & Ideas

Before we dive into all of our go-to Thanksgiving leftover ideas, we have to share a bit of information regarding two of the most common Thanksgiving leftover questions:

How Should You Store Your Thanksgiving Leftovers?

You probably have less time than you think to get that extra turkey into the fridge! Once you serve your turkey you have about 2 hours before you should move the leftovers into the refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling. So before you take that post-Thanksgiving feast nap, grab your favorite airtight containers & get that leftover turkey in the fridge.

How Long Do Thanksgiving Leftovers Last?

Once refrigerated, you can enjoy your leftovers safely for 3-4 days after they are originally served or you can freeze your leftover turkey & keep it for about 2 months in the freezer.

Turkey Storage Tip

You may have to use a few storage containers if you have a lot of leftover turkey. Turkey should only be stored about 2 inches deep in the container for optimal cooling & safe refrigeration.

Skillet Chicken (or Turkey!) Pot Pie

The PWWB Community LOVES this Chicken Pot Pie – so why not mix things up with your holiday leftovers and create a Thanksgiving leftover pot pie with your turkey instead of chicken! This pot pie is easy & made entirely in a cast-iron skillet, making it a no-fuss recipe.

Creamy homemade filling loaded with carrots & potatoes pairs perfectly with shredded turkey. Then it all gets topped with an extra flaky biscuit topping with herbed garlic butter – making this skillet pot pie the perfect comfort food recipe & an easy way to use up all of that leftover turkey goodness.

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your leftover turkey, skip Step 2 in this recipe & in Step 5 stir in shredded turkey instead! Easy as that.

A white bowl filled with skillet pot pie and topped with an extra flaky biscuit & herbs sits on top of a white hot pad next to a sprig of rosemary and a white and blue striped linen napkin.

Click HERE for the full Skillet Chicken Pot Pie recipe!

Chickpea Chipotle Chicken Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Kale

This Chipotle Chicken Chili has it all. It is full of healthy ingredients, ultra comforting, & full of modern flare! Each bite is filled with smoky, sweet flavors & a touch of warmth thanks to a special addition of cinnamon. This is not your average turkey chili!

A white bowl filled with Chickpea Chipotle Turkey Chili sits on top of a light blue background. Small bowls of toppings surround the bowl including guacamole, cheese, and cilantro and a blue and white striped napkin is tucked alongside the bowl. A spoon is nestled into the bowl of chili and the chili is topped with cheese, cilantro, and guacamole.

Click HERE for the full Chickpea Chipotle Chicken Chili recipe!

Autumn Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Gouda & Granny Smith

While Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwiches are always a classic, why not take things up a notch & really amp up your turkey sandwich game?

This grilled cheese is layered with some of the BEST autumn flavors. Made with hearty whole-grain bread, whole grain mustard, melty gouda, turkey (of course!), & crisp & bright granny smith apples – it is the ultimate fall inspired grilled cheese sandwich. Serve it with a side of tomato or Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup & you’ll have one comforting meal!

Two halves of an autumn grilled cheese sandwich are stacked on top of one another with the sandwich layers displayed. This grilled cheese is being held on each side by a woman's hands. In the background there is a light blue surface with pieces of whole & cut up granny smith apples and a white linen napkin.

Click HERE for the full Autumn Grilled Cheese recipe!

Weeknight Chicken (or Turkey!) Tortilla Soup

Simple to make & full of flavor, this tortilla soup is SO delicious & filling. Thanks to tender sweet potatoes & your favorite light beer this is a leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipe you can pull together quickly. Made in only 35 minutes from start-to-finish it is perfect for cold weather nights & repurposing that extra turkey sitting in the fridge!

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your leftover turkey, skip the chicken in Step 3, shred the turkey in Step 4 & add in the shredded turkey goodness in Step 5. Voila!

You could even toss in some of your leftover roasted maple glazed carrots for a subtle touch of sweetness or serve with a leftover Extra Flaky Pumpkin Biscuit & you have the coziest post-Thanksgiving meal!

An overhead shot of a white bowl filled with Tortilla Soup topped with sour cream, fried tortilla strips, sliced avocado, & chopped cilantro. The bowl sits on top of a white background with a bunch of cilantro and a blue and white striped linen napkin.

Click HERE for the full Weeknight Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe!

Golden Chicken (or Turkey!) Soup

Sometimes after a big heavy meal like Thanksgiving you can feel a bit sluggish. Enter this bold, bright & immunity-boosting soup & it will pick you right back up! An entire soup made in only 40 minutes or less & packed with flavors of lemon, ginger & turmeric. This soup has a nice zip but is still really well balanced. This homemade soup is sure to have you coming back for more!

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your leftover turkey, skip Step 1, & ignore the chicken in Step 4. In Step 5, add in shredded turkey instead! Simple as that.

Turmeric chicken soup in a white bowl, next to some lemons & a black linen on a white marble surface.

Click HERE for the full Golden Chicken Soup recipe!

Weeknight Chicken (or Turkey!) Enchiladas

The easiest enchiladas are loaded up with bell peppers, sweet onion, black beans, (shredded turkey!), & cheese, then covered in a simple homemade enchilada sauce. These enchiladas are weeknight cooking magic. Serve them alongside a couple of margaritas & you’ll forget that a part of these enchiladas were once the main dish in your holiday feast.

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: In Step 3, add in shredded turkey instead of pulled chicken to create a turkey enchilada filling!

Two enchiladas sit on top of a white dinner plate. The enchilada is topped with sliced avocado, cheese, and pepitas. The plate sits on top of a white napkin with red stitching along the edges and the napkin & plate sit on top of a white & gray marbled surface.

Click HERE for the full Weeknight Chicken Enchiladas recipe!

Cozy Autumn Grain Bowls

If fall was a salad it would be these Autumn Grain Bowls. Filled with all sorts of fall goodness including kale, wild rice, quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, apple, & smoked gouda. This salad then gets topped with creamy-dreamy cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette for an extra punch of fall flavor! Serve them warm or cold. Plus, they can easily made vegetarian, vegan, &/or dairy-free – these Autumn Grain Bowls are sure to become a new leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipe favorite!

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: These Autumn Grain Bowls are already super customizable. If you want to use up your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers simply substitute Rotisserie chicken for shredded turkey instead. The flavors of this salad go perfectly with turkey too!

Autumn grain bowl placed on light blue surface. A woman's hand reaches into the frame with a jar of maple cinnamon vinaigrette, pouring the dressing into the bowl. In the foreground sits a striped linen napkin. In the background, a small cutting board topped with walnuts, an apple & a small paring knife.

Click HERE for the full Cozy Autumn Grain Bowls recipe!

Spicy White Chili with Pulled Chicken (or Turkey!) & Beer

As the weather cools there is nothing better than a big bowl of chili! This white chili is the perfect excuse to use up those turkey day leftovers. It has the perfect balance of warm spices, chili peppers, onions & when made thanksgiving leftover-style, shredded turkey! Top it with guacamole & watch the bowl disappear – this chili is that good & will warm you right up!

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: In Step 5, substitute pulled chicken for shredded leftover turkey instead & you are good to go!

White chili in a white bowl decorated with blue flowers and dots on a light blue background. Served with a generous dollop of homemade guacamole & tortilla strips nestled in the bowl too.

Click HERE for the full Spicy White Chili recipe!

Italian Chicken (or Turkey!) & Gnocchi Dumplings

If you want to turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into the ultimate comfort food meal, look no further than this Italian Gnocchi Dumplings soup. The easiest homemade soup made with pillowy soft dumplings, Italian spices & rich parmesan. You cannot go wrong with this soup. Plus, it is a total one-pot wonder (which means less cleanup too!), & it takes just under an hour to make.

How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your turkey leftovers in this Dumpling Soup recipe, skip Step 1, omit the chicken in Step 3, & in Step 5 add in that glorious shredded turkey to your soup. So simple & so so good!

Two bowls of Chicken & Gnocchi Soup, sitting atop a white surface, next to a blue & white striped linen napkin, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, & two gold spoons. The soup is garnished with cracked black pepper & finely chopped fresh chives.

Click HERE or the full Italian Chicken & Gnocchi Dumplings recipe!

Lastly, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we didn’t mention what we are thankful for & we are truly SO thankful for this PWWB community! Thank you so much for being here & for sharing in our love of good food! 💜

If you give any of these recipes a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Need more cozy meal & Thanksgiving leftover ideas & inspiration? We got you covered! To pair with leftover side dishes check out our PWWB Main Dishes, for cold-weather lunch & dinners check out these Soup, Stew & Chili Recipes, or try these Sunday Supper & Cozy Weeknight Meals next! Happy cooking! ♡

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Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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